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Austin poet urges ‘falling in love with the planet’ to struggle local weather change, not giving in to concern

Folks reply to the specter of local weather change in numerous methods. Some ignore it. Some protest coverage. Others decide to altering their very own private consumption habits.

Austin poet Terry Dawson is responding by means of poetry. He has collected his poems from him associated to the Earth, land, outerspace and the physique right into a e-book referred to as The After: Poems Solely a Planet Might Love.

Dawson says he wrote these poems at totally different occasions. Take heed to the interview above or learn the transcript under to seek out out what impressed him and the way mortality has influenced his desirous about local weather change.

This transcript has been edited evenly for readability:

KUT: The place did you get the concept to assemble a set of your poems associated to local weather change?

Terry Dawson: It truly got here from driving within the automobile and listening to [theoretical physicist] Stephen Hawking discuss concerning the atmosphere and world warming. And he was requested the query, “What’s the subsequent step?” And he mentioned, “interplanetary journey.” And so I nearly braked the automobile as a result of that was my response. I did not discover myself giving up the way in which it sounds Stephen Hawking had. And what I sense that he was suggesting [was] we’ll save ourselves by means of expertise. And I actually reacted to that as a result of I feel the ecosystem that we’re in and our personal psychological ecosystem has to alter. We aren’t going to have the ability to go to a different planet and never change. We’ve got to alter ourselves right here earlier than that.

In order that was my motivation to write down poetry, which I feel will get to a deeper degree and permits itself, if individuals hearken to it, to get to a deeper degree the place the roots are of our tendencies.

You mentioned we have to change our “psychological ecosystem.” What did you imply once you mentioned we have to change what is going on on mentally in regard to local weather change?

We have to assume in another way. Take inventory of the truth that we’re in deep trouble and the way in which the climate has modified so dramatically, and we will see this modification. It is measurable change. There’s plenty of resistance to that. However I feel that resistance comes out of concern. So I do not assume feeding the concern is the way in which to go.

It is falling in love with the planet, I feel, is what we have to do. The aim of our being right here is to fall in love with one another and to fall in love with a world that’s ours. In my seventieth 12 months and seeing my very own physique beginning to fade away, I’ve my very own form of world warming happening right here that it brings it dwelling.

What do you assume is efficient about poetry and the humanities in attempting to achieve individuals to be extra privy to local weather change?

Dawson holds a replica of his assortment of poems on local weather change. The quilt artwork for the e-book relies on Austin artist Liam Wilson’s portray “Planet’s Story in Fireplace and Ice.”

Effectively, it is how poetry spoke to me, I suppose, as a youngster. I had nice benefit of being uncovered to some actually high-powered poets as a youngster. My highschool introduced in these individuals. I may see how pressing their phrases had been to them, and that was contagious. I began to really feel that.

In a poem you are going after the extra easy, bite-sized items to take these bites of actuality that we’re in. And implicit in that actuality is the popularity of how treasured and the way fragile the world is that we reside in.

So you are a poet, you are an writer, you are a columnist, you are a Presbyterian minister. What makes you a local weather change skilled? Of us are most likely questioning: Why ought to I hearken to that poetry man? I am fearful of poetry. I do not perceive it. What does he know?

That is a great query. You understand, as Presbyterians, as ministers, we’re educated to be generalists and never consultants. So we all know a bit about plenty of issues. So I solely have a little bit of the story. You have got a little bit of the story. We’re all feeling the identical elephant, and we’re all blind and all of us see totally different components of it. So that is simply my little bit of the elephant that I am sharing with you.

I feel poetry is the car as a result of pure poetry transcends our actuality in a method as I feel the thriller of our world transcends actuality.

This looks like a great time to truly hear one in every of your poems. Inform us concerning the one you are going to learn.

It is simply referred to as “one.” You talked about that I am a Presbyterian minister. And one of many issues about our faiths: We’re given a view of how all issues work — heaven and hell and people sorts of pictures — which are fairly easy in our church buildings, faculties and our synagogues and our mosques. However as adults, we’ve to develop into an grownup understanding of what it’s. And that is my response to that in saying that how we wish issues to be just isn’t at all times how they’re. So let’s develop up.


oh how we need to imagine
our being some distinctive specimen
separate from the remainder –
a bit above the angels even?

but what’s seen & felt,
what day by day dealt out to us like
required doses — like our stingy desires —
measures out our directions, specifically:

this throughout us: all we’ve
this which comes on breath
famished to eat;
our everlasting room awaits no preparation

we have arrived & our dwelling years for us —
for our targeted love the surprise of our world
you reside inside these our bodies one with it,
they as complete or particle survive.

Thanks for sharing that with us, Terry. I am tempted to ask one thing alongside the strains of: What does that poem imply? What would you like us to remove from that poem? However poetry looks like a really particular person and relational expertise, and 10 totally different individuals may learn and expertise that poem and take barely totally different meanings and impacts away from it.

Effectively, that is the beauty of poetry: It is a mirror. It is a reflection of who we’re in our range and in our numerous understanding. If I’ll use the poem as a pun, there’s not one understanding. Poetry is multivalent. It has many sides.

We’re having this dialog at Crimson Bud Isle Park in Austin. I requested the place there was an outside spot you would possibly like to satisfy and have this dialog, and that is the spot you selected. Are you able to inform us why? If there’s one thing about it that speaks to you, that impacts you?

This place has develop into a spot of calm. However what I keep in mind — my mother-in-law died and I used to carry her right here. The older I get, I tear up extra. I imply, I’m realizing the shut of my life by seeing so many lives come to an finish round me. And he or she is one in every of them. However this was a fantastic place to carry her the place she was one who appreciated each leaf — the whole lot she noticed — by no means modified in that regard, and seeing this place by means of her eyes made it much more particular for me.

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